Wisconsin Companies Embrace Facebook and Twitter

…and other social media trends

By George Whitely, President, Stephan & Brady, www.stephanbrady.com

As more of our clients embrace social media, we wondered what the general trend was among Wisconsin-based companies. In order to find out, we developed an online survey and sent it to marketing executives across the state. A cross-section of industries responded: associations, healthcare, manufacturing, financial, food companies, legal, sports, attractions and non-profits.

What did we find? Among Wisconsin companies, 80% currently use social media in their marketing communications strategies. Social networking is the fastest-growing area and blogs are on the rise. Facebook, once a niche sharing site for college kids nationwide, and Twitter, a more recently accepted hyper-focused communications tool, ranked as the most popular platforms for Wisconsin companies to communicate their products and services. 

Most respondents agreed that social media is an essential tactic deserving a position within the overall marketing mix.  Budget projections for 2010 reflect that point with an average 2% increase over 2009.

As a complement to traditional marketing strategies, companies are using social media to:

  • Build brand awareness
  • Engage target audiences
  • Build brand loyalty
  • Gain valuable customer feedback
  • Attract prospects
  • Drive sales

But there are barriers to social media use as well.  Social media is a tool that should be refined and refocused based on desired outcome. Survey participants indicated that they stopped using social media because:

  • It demanded too much staff time and resources
  • Difficult to demonstrate ROI
  • Lack of audience traffic
  • Regulatory issues within industry

But for those who see the benefit of social media activities, there are many ways to promote them. Interestingly, organic or grassroots marketing strategies rank ahead of advertising when it comes to increasing target audience awareness. The prioritized list includes: corporate Web sites (76%), public relations (73%), updates to the specific social media accounts (66%), corporate e-mail signatures (47%), advertising (39%), comments on other blogs (37%).

Social Networking is Fastest-Growing Area

As social networking for brands becomes an acceptable and essential marketing tactic, 79% of Wisconsin companies entered the arena within the last year. Which social media trail behind Facebook and Twitter in terms of overall use? Survey participants listed YouTube, monitoring and publishing blogs, LinkedIn, MySpace and Wikis.

Facebook is the clear leader in effectively reaching marketing goals according to the 46% of respondents. But it’s interesting to see where marketing resources are allocated and how each social media platform performs against goals.

Even though the jury may be out on the true measure of Facebook’s marketing influence, companies are taking advantage of the most measurable elements the technology offers.  The most popular being Facebook fan pages.

Twitter, on the other hand, has more specific uses:

  • Product/service announcements and news
  • Building brand awareness
  • Media relations
  • Coupons & offers
  • Customer support
The Blogosphere is Expanding

Seems like everyone these days has a blog, and for good reason – they are easy to update and monitor traffic and reader comments. Blogs from Wisconsin-based companies are on the rise. Whereas 38% of marketers established a blog two or more years ago, 62% were launched within the last year.  

More than 60% of companies are following industry advice advocating that readers of blogs be allowed to post comments. One company indicated it received up to 200 reader comments each month. Therefore, monitoring blog traffic is a high priority. It appears that blogs will continue to be supported, as 57% are successful in delivering on the goal to “enable engagement with our target audience.”

Idea Sharing and Information

The core of social media is information dissemination. The marketing challenge lies in how a company chooses to package and integrate its complete marketing package to its target audiences.

Whether you embrace or vilify social networking or blogging, learning how each of the technologies touches your customers is critical to marketing success. If it takes seven points of impact for a person to absorb a message, one of those seven should include social marketing.

Stephan & Brady is an integrated marketing communications firm with B2B and B2C clients based in Madison.


Sign up for BizTimes Daily Alerts

Stay up-to-date on the people, companies and issues that impact business in Milwaukee and Southeast Wisconsin

No posts to display